Posh escape

The Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Alibaug, offers an interesting getaway to coastal Maharashtra
Posh escape
Posh escape

The growing army of albatrosses fussing around my catamaran told me that my deep-blue traverse from Mumbai to Alibaug had ended. Though the noon heat slapped me as I stepped off, the air-conditioned drive to the Radisson Resort & Spa Resort made the bucolic environs of this beach appear Polaroid-perfect. The narrow road seemed to suddenly zoom into a huge fortress-like entrance bordered by trim shrubs, gurgling fountains and etched rock pillars, taking me unawares.

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At the lobby entrance, a glass of thick guava juice brought home how parched I was. Soon I was engulfed in a Thai- and Balinese-styled area with massive cylindrical floor lamps, rattan day beds, metal bowls holding floating flowers and tall glazed bamboo shoots. I passed aquamarine water-bodies, lavish flowers and peach-hued villas with individual manicured lawns. The corridors and interiors of rooms also bore the same combination of green paint and wooden flooring.

Assistant Manager Anupama Ramola told me this was Alibaug&rsquos first five-star hotel indeed it is a prime weekend getaway. Developed by the Sahil Real Estate Group and owned by Radisson Hotels & Resorts of Carlson Hotels, 88 rooms (and 56 more by the end of this year) are spread across 16 acres. This includes soundproof conference rooms, banquet halls, a discotheque called Razzmatazz and Aparanta, a 24/7 coffee shop with an à la carte menu. There is even a temple, a meditation room and the Mandara spa.

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My Superior Room on the second floor was satisfactorily hi-tech with a Philips LCD with speakers inside the glass-walled bathroom. Also three phones, an electronic safe and a minibar. My balcony view had the Sahyadris in the distance and, closer, the Balinese lines of the hotel in the reflection pool. To my right, holidaymakers regaled themselves at the sunken pool bar. Below, wooden rafters lined the compartmentalised lawns of the deluxe rooms, each adorned with a frangipani tree.

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The scene turned magical at night. The inverted mirror image of the mellow-lit hotel interiors glinted warmly in the reflection pool. I made my way to Kokum & Spice &mdash the coastal-themed restaurant faces the picturesque Veshwi Lake. The all-woman staff greeted me in Marathi as I chose a table under the stars. And with crickets singing to me, I tucked in the amazing spicy fish curry and rice, juicy clams and a dessert of karaji with ice cream. What added to the charm was that this restaurant had a telescope. The moon appeared inverted, alas &mdash the staff couldn&rsquot figure how to adjust the optics &mdash but I was glad to view our satellite&rsquos prominent craters, upright or not. Night is also when the high-ceilinged piano bar comes alive. I pushed open a French window to find a pianist tinkling out old Hindi songs to couples scattered on cherry-red couches and black water-hyacinth chairs.

The spa also looks surreal at night. This 20,000 sq ft white enclave of 16 pavilions is lit to bring out the floral wall designs. I sipped warm green tea as Thai manager SirawaneeSaysakol told me about their weekend spa packages. I was recommended their Mandara signature massage two masseurs synchronised an exotic four-hand massage of Japanese, Hawaiian, Thai, Swedish and Balinese massage techniques on me. I was asleep within minutes.

Radisson also offers a putting green, an indoor games room, a library with 50-odd books on India, a gym with a Jacuzzi and sauna, and also cycles on hire, if you&rsquod like to explore Alibaug on your own. For children, a playroom and kiddie meals at the coffee shop. A getaway that allows you, truly, to get away.

The information

Where 110km from Mumbai/45min via sea and then 2km into Alibaug
Accommodation Rooms 52 Superior, 4 Deluxe. Suites 4 Executive. Spa Villas 5 Deluxe, 11 Executive. 8 Lake-view Villas, 4 Terrace Rooms
Tariff Rs 15,000 (Superior), Rs 20,000 (Deluxe), Rs 25,000 (Executive Suite), Rs 30,000 (Deluxe Spa Villas), Rs 37,000 (Executive Spa Villas), Rs 45,000 (Lake-view Villas) Rs 60,000 (Terrace Rooms).
Contact 02141-277799, 227777,

Outlook Traveller